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IN FOCUS: Elizabeth LeCompte

Shakespeare with a Native American twist

Published on Jul 29, 2014 11:44 AM

Theatre director Elizabeth LeCompte, 70, sounds like she has her arms folded when she first picks up the telephone at her home in New York City.

Later in the interview, a genial warmth flickers to the surface. But for now, there is a certain guarded edge to her calm, articulate responses on theatre-making.

LeCompte is co-founder of the visionary Wooster Group, known for its radical adaptations of classic plays written by the likes of American greats Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, or William Shakespeare.

It splices these works with technology, a blend of the high-brow and low-brow, and experiments with genre and form.

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"I don't rearrange language. What I do is interrupt it. There are different places of rest and different places of speed. But the texts are in sequence... I'm quite classical that way, actually."

Elizabeth LeCompte, co-founder of the visionary Wooster Group, on her theatrical style.

The group is known for its radical adaptations of classic plays and has put on works such as Rumstick Road, The Emperor Jones and Cry, Trojans! (Troilus & Cressida)

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What is it: Originally developed in collaboration with Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company in 2012 as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, the first incarnation of Troilus & Cressida cast the American actors as the Trojans, and the British actors as the Greeks.

The Wooster Group reimagined the Trojans as a fictional Native American tribe struggling against its imminent doom at the hands of colonialism.

The troupes rehearsed separately in order to make their different artistic approaches even more apparent, and the result was a discordant and searing culture clash both within the play and during the production itself, reflecting the clash between the Trojans and the Greeks.

This new 2014 production, sans the Royal Shakespeare Company, is quite a different creature, following LeCompte's conversion of the work into an independent piece.

Where: School of the Arts Studio Theatre, 1 Zubir Said Drive

When: Sept 18 to 20, 3pm, Sept 21, 3pm

Admission: $55 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to


Where: School of the Arts Studio Theatre

When: Sept 20, noon (two hours)

Admission: Free